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Medicines to end the pandemic. Photo: Pixabay.

What are the medications being developed to treat COVID-19?

While the pandemic runs its course and vaccination campaigns fight the coronavirus, laboratories are making progress in creating drugs to combat it.

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The world's leading medical laboratories are not only working to develop and strengthen vaccines against COVID-19, but also to create oral medications (so far only done with intravenous doses) that can help patients to overcome the coronavirus and avoid having the strongest symptoms.

These drugs, some of which are already in their trial phases, would have the capacity to offer new and better weapons to get rid of the devastating effects of the health emergency. Here are some of the products that could open the door to less traumatic COVID treatments:

Pfizer and Merck

A product originally created to fight the flu called “molnupiravir,” could have the ability to interact with the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome during its reproduction to wreak havoc and limit its transmission. It would be prescribed as early as possible at the first sign of infection or when it is known the patient has been exposed to the virus.

The responsible laboratories are already carrying out studies on more than 2,000 hospitalized patients over 18 years of age and with symptoms. Due to the harshness of the pandemic and the urgent need for solutions, researchers have been allowed to carry out all three phases of trials in a single stage.

The example of influenza treatments

For now, the drugs developed to be used in treatments for COVID work only in the cases where they are administered in the early stages of the disease. A similar example is Tamiflu, a very effective antiviral that is used to treat influenza, but only works when ingested in the first 24 hours from the moment symptoms show.

A replacement vaccination?

What many people wonder is whether these antiviral treatments can replace the vaccine, to which specialists say no.

The new drugs can become very important and beneficial tools for those who contract COVID-19, especially when applied in the first hours of the disease. But because the vaccine protects patients, mainly from having the most severe symptoms, vaccination cannot be stopped or altered for the time being.

Medications used in other pathologies

A product used in arthritis treatment, baricitin, also appears to be helping patients in some cases of coronavirus. Being an anti-inflammatory drug, it can offer relief against the virus, but it is important to note that it cannot be administered indiscriminately to any COVID patient, since its benefits only occur in some cases.

For its part, especially in Latin America, other drugs have been administered to treat the virus, presenting some success stories. But due to the lack of serious and detailed studies for now, they cannot be officially considered effective. This is the case of ebastine, vitamin D3 and ivermectin, among others.

Is the end of the pandemic nearing?

Although we may think that we are on the right track and that, thanks to vaccination, fatal cases from COVID-19 will no longer occur, the path to cover is still long. The appearance of new variants, added to the refusal of many people to inoculate themselves and use bio-safety measures, will continue to be stones in the shoe that will delay a future triumph over the pandemic. 

The emergence of new medical treatments, including oral antivirals, are important to have more and better tools to face the health emergency. But it won’t be until countries fight with a unified strategy and a space is created in which all nations have access to available vaccines and treatments, that the pandemic will dissipate.

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